The Decline of British Sea Power – Classic album review

27 Jun

British Sea Power are the most underrated British band of the past ten years. Their debut set the benchmark for British Indie for the rest of the decade but only now is it being truly recognised as the classic album it is. British Sea Power never have been part of a movement or scene, they are the classic outsiders, one step out of sync with their contemporaries. They have recently been called the British Arcade Fire but ‘The Decline of British Sea Power’ came out well over a year before ‘Funeral’ and it is a different kind of beast.

‘The Decline of…’ is a brief history of Britain in many ways; past, present and future. The songs are mini stories that vividly capture an eccentric British landscape in a way few bands of recent times have done. The Opener ‘Men Together Today’ is a kind of football terrace anthem from a more respectable age, a very English and calm introduction to the album. But there is nothing calm about the storms that brew later on. ‘Apologies to insect Life’ and ‘Favours in Beetroot fields’ are searing and ferocious, snarling indie at it’s most determined.

The album constantly flickers between these outbursts and the completely reserved euphoric songs like ‘Something Wicked’. Musically they occupy a space that is only their own but draw heavily on the songs of Joy Division, Echo and The Bunnymen, Joe Meek and Pavement. It is lyrically where they most impress. Their words are so original and vivid, such as on ‘Remember Me’ which is about an elderly person loosing thier memory, or ‘Fear of Drowning’ which is metaphorically about drowning in a sea of technology. Most startling is when they combine image and sound so perfectly on the 14 minute epic ‘lately’. This is a song about a dieing soilder’s thoughts on a battlefield in world war two. As the soilder ponders over the past, the sound of planes flying overhead and his memories – the listener can hear what he is hearing as well and feel what he is feeling. It builds into a climactic surge of noise and drama with everything thrown in to truely make you feel a part of the scene.

This isn’t even the albuums final track – after that we have one more song, a melodic calm love song about building a wooden horse. This is a relaxed end to a manic album.  ‘The Decline of…’ is truely one of the decade’s best albums, one of the most eccentric British debut’s of all time. The cover art best expresses what the band are about; it is traditional, unusual, unfashionable, poetic and outstanding. The front cover also refers to the album as classic, and time has revealed this to be true.

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